HomeSportsAndrés Galarraga: It has been 63 years leaving a mark

Andrés Galarraga: It has been 63 years leaving a mark

The "Big Cat" played 19 seasons in the Major Leagues and is the second Venezuelan with the most HRs in MLB

The “Big Cat” Andrés Galarraga up at 63 years of age, being considered one of the greatest sluggers that Venezuela has had in Major League baseball and a national hero in every sense, not only for everything he did on the field; leaving the tricolor flag high, but for having overcome cancer, demonstrating his strength as a human being.

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Andrés José Padovani Galarraga was born on June 18, 1961 in Caracas; son of Francisco Padovani and Juana Galarraga, his father was an Italian immigrant who made a living painting houses and his mother - like every mother - was vital in his upbringing and that of his three brothers Orlando, Alfonso Francisco and his sister Haide.

It should be noted that Andrés played ball since his childhood, but professionally since he was 16 years old with the Leones del Caracas. That was when Felipe Rojas Alou -then manager of Caracas- recommended him to the Farm Director of the Montreal Expos, who ended up signing him for a four-digit figure.

His path to the Major Leagues was not easy, he had problems adapting to English, he was the only Latino in the Rookie League in Calgary and nostalgia for his parents overwhelmed him. In fact, SABR reports that in an interview with Bob Kravitz he confessed that he “felt so homesick when he arrived that he wanted to call his parents every day, but he only had money to do it weekly.”

Now, after overcoming the obstacle of the Minor Leagues, he made his debut in the “Big Show” on August 23, 1985. And, in his first 24 games he barely averaged .187 with two homers and four RBIs.

He took off in 1987 and his stardom was in Colorado

And, although his career took off in 1987 when he played his first season, he hit over .300 for the first time (.305), scored 90 runs and finished second in the National League in doubles (40), it was the following year where he was called up to the All-Star Game, won his first silver bat and was sixth in the Old Circuit MVP voting, in addition to being the Expos Player of the Year.

However, his true stardom came after being signed as the first free agent of the Colorado Rockies on November 16, 1992. He was part of the feared “Blake Street Bombers” along with Larry Walker, Dante Bichette and the Mexican Vinicio Castilla, who with their daily hits brought so many fans to the Rockies park that the club set an attendance record in its first year and in the third they played in their first postseason.

Galarraga's landmarks in Colorado include:

  • 1993: First career batting title (.370)
  • June 25, 1995: HR in consecutive innings (3) vs. Parents
  • July 3, 1995: 1st Rockies batter with 6 hits in a game
  • May 31, 1997: HR of 524ft (according to civil engineers) against Kevin Brown of the Florida Marlins
  • 1996: Líder in National League HRs (1996)
  • Twice líder in National League RBIs
    • 150 (1996)
    • 140 (1997)
  • More than 100 runs scored in 1996, 97' and 98'

He retired as the Venezuelan with the most home runs (399), doubles (444) and runs batted in (1.425). That is, until he was surpassed by Miguel Cabrera in all those lines. Meanwhile, Omar Vizquel and Bob Abreu also surpassed him in doubles.

In his 19-year career he wore the uniforms of the Montreal Expos (1985-1991/2002), St. Louis Cardinals (1992), Colorado Rockies (1993-1997), Atlanta Braves (1998-2000), Texas Rangers (2001), San Francisco Giants (2001/2003) and Anaheim Angels (2004).

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